The Saddest Things You’ll Ever See Are At The Starbucks

Filed under: @ 9:07 pm

I saw the saddest thing I hope to see in a long time last Saturday.

Andrew and I were in our local QFC, the one that just opened the Starbucks stand despite the fact that there’s a Starbucks storefront not 500 yards across the parking lot.
We were picking up some things for dinner when we rounded the end of an aisle and I saw, standing in the bakery looking at the catalogue of fancy children’s birthday cakes, a mother and daughter. Mom was maybe mid-30’s, somewhat taller and somewhat heavier than I, but not in the obese category. She looked a lot like a woman who exercised some but not enough and cared about her diet some, but not enough.
Her daughter however……

Daughter was maybe, maybe, 6 and had to weigh over 100 pounds. I’ve never seen such a truly, morbidly obese child.
And the worst part of it was that both mom and daughter were sucking on giant blended Starbucks drinks. Daughter was carrying a bigger Starbucks cup than I’ve ever ordered.
I just wanted to scream.

To a certain extent it is hypocritical of me to rant about this sort of thing, especially when I witnessed it on a shopping trip where we ended up purchasing a chocolate cream pie for our weekly dessert extravaganza. But I’m overweight, I know I’m overweight, and I put a lot of effort and thought into reversing the situation (or at least in keeping it from getting worse!)

This woman knows her daughter is obese and on a trip to the grocery store she purchases for her daughter and her daughter alone, a 32 ounce blended coffee drink (now in all fairness it may not have been coffee, it may have been one of the chocolate/caramel drinks, but regardless) that came in a cup that was longer than the child’s arm.
I wanted to go up and talk to her, to ask her if she knew that at no other time in her daughter’s life was she likely to have such a big influence and such rigid control over what her daughter consumed. To ask her if she knew that she was shortening her daughter’s life by setting an example and providing resources for her to further a problem that was already well advanced. To ask if she had considered purchasing her child a piece of freakin’ FRUIT as a treat while they were shopping. And why does a trip to the grocery store automatically require a treat anyway?
I wanted to rant a lot.

I know that there are underlying situations in the lives of this woman and her child that I’ll never know. Maybe the Starbucks drink was as a reward for the child who has been on a diet and had already lost 10 pounds. Maybe the kid has cancer and isn’t going to live long enough for diabetes, heart disease, blindness, amputations, and progressive debility to be a factor for her.
And I know that it would have been pretentious of me in the extreme to walk up to this woman and light into her about how she is raising her child. On the other hand I also think that my failure to act was a part of the problem that this increasingly obese country faces. Maybe if more people were willing to make an embarrassing public scene about things like this, more people would be shamed into being a little less permissive about their children’s diet. Sure the rant would end up backfiring on some people (“Well! How DARE you! My child has cancer and won’t live another 6 months. If she wants a giant coffee drink, a giant coffee drink she shall have!”), but since these days society frowns on calling an obese child obese, especially in public, societal pressure to do something to keep your child from being morbidly overweight has disappeared. Or at least it’s gotten very lost in the background.

While I decry in every way allowing words to become weapons that are used against the vunerable, I think that using words as weapons against those who are supposed to be protecting and nurturing the vunerable but ain’t is probably okay.

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